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General

Carla hated Mondays. As a general rule, she preferred to keep all negative feelings to one day of the week. But the circumstances of that Monday certainly weren't helping the day’s case. As she sat in the stuffy room, surrounded by a group of strangers, she tried to listen to the presentation. But the speaker just kept going on and on about some newfangled home security system that could only be disarmed by fingerprints or something. The whole thing was too much technology for Carla to really understand. She stifled a yawn, carefully glancing at her watch. Surely it would happen pretty soon, she still wanted to be home at a decent time.

 The speaker had finished and had now presented the security system’s designer to the group. The man smiled too wide, his teeth glinting almost as much as the oil slicking back his dark hair. He was definitely the salesman type and answered questions proudly as they were fired at him. Carla grimaced, even his voice was oily. 

“My security system is absolutely impregnable! The only way to enter a locked system is through the fingerprints uploaded into the main control box….”

Carla let his voice drone on as she ignored the rest of the words, mentally screaming ‘Okay! We get how good it is!’ But that response wouldn’t exactly be acceptable so she sat still, letting her eyes focus and unfocus on a small stain against the opposite wall. A noise from beside her pulled her attention and she slid her gaze to the right. A man was sitting beside her, leaning far back into his chair with his arms crossed and his eyes fixed lazily towards the speaker. Then Carla noticed his lips moving slightly and as she tilted her ear closer heard the soft snorting of...she almost laughed. He was sleeping with his eyes open, no wonder he hadn’t moved once since they had sat down! She envied and admired the guts he had to pull a stunt like that. 

Another glance at her watch, why was this taking so long? Resigning herself to being as patient as possible, Carla decided to play a little game. Even if she was surrounded by strangers, that was no reason why she couldn’t give them names. To start, she dubbed the kindred soul beside her, “Mr. Boddy”. She scanned the other faces around her, making sure not to turn her head too much. The lady sitting in front of her, although Carla couldn’t see her whole face, kept reapplying bright red lipstick. Carla rolled her eyes at the necessity of an action given the situation but named her “Miss Scarlet” and moved on. In the fourth chair on her left, a gentleman sat, intently watching the presentation with glowing green eyes. He had a dark auburn handlebar mustache streaked with grey that he smoothed down with one hand every so often. The perfect “Colonel Mustard”. Carla then noticed the woman directly to her left, dressed in a white button down blouse and methodically tying and untying a hairband with fingers covered in band-aids. Rushing a job in a kitchen perhaps? Either way, she had found her “Miss White”. 

On her other side, Mr. Boddy jerked and Carla jumped from the sudden movement. He was blinking quickly and clearing his throat, looking around to see if anyone had noticed. Carla almost opened her mouth to say something but couldn’t bear disrupting his triumphant smirk as he settled back against the chair. This time she thought she could see the exact moment his eyes glazed over and he fell back asleep. His movements brought her attention back to the reason they were there and she forced her gaze back towards the speaker. He had brought up a series of other individuals to share their own experiences, but even for the few minutes Carla tried to focus she could feel a yawn itching up the back of her throat.

Another glance at her watch. At least her game had been killing some time, but what she was waiting for still hadn’t happened. Carla tried to remind herself to be patient. She glanced again at the Colonel, who was still captivated by the speakers and noticed the man directly in front of him, also held in rapt attention. The man wore a black suit and had styled blond hair with a matching mustache, and was completely still except for one hand twisting the emerald toned watch on his left wrist. “Hello Mr. Green,” she thought with a smile. On the other side of Miss White, a man sat cleaning his glasses with a piece of cloth, occasionally adjusting the purple bow tie at his neck. He kept stealing glances at the mysterious Miss Scarlet, his face flushing slightly. Carla had never seen a better Professor Plum. Now she just needed...There! Sitting directly in front of the Professor, an old woman scratching the back of her head. A sapphire broach sparked from the front of her blouse and matched the unique clips holding her long, white hair in a needlessly fancy up-do. It took everything in Carla to not openly grin at this Mrs. Peacock.

She glanced at the remaining strangers, just four more people to name. But as she started brainstorming, the speaker’s next guest caught her attention. The young man now talking to the group was tall and gangly, introduced as part of the installment crew for the system. He had a very open face and he waved his hands as he described different aspects of the system.

“...then we install the fail-safe, it’s a kind of electronic keyhole in case anything needs to be entirely reprogrammed. But not just anyone has it, only the designer of the system so that he can personally solve technical problems for….”

Carla tuned out the rest, her mind hitching on his statement. She couldn’t figure out why it bothered her so much.

Wait a minute. Thoughts clicked in her head, her waiting had paid off. A master key card owned by the creator? The same man who claimed earlier that fingerprints were the absolute only way in. Carla looked around at her fellow jurors, wondering if they had noticed the slip. Oh well, she thought, leaning back into her chair. At least she knew who the real murderer was.

July 08, 2020 02:02

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